On paper they are all relatively straight forward – complete the elements, get the unit pass, boom. N5 especially doesn’t have much to the assessments but N4 on the other hand, given the lack of an external exam, has a huge amount of elements. The most difficult thing about this year is that we are all flying blind, everything is new and the tests are untested. One difference is that all the assessments are produced by the SQA and teachers are to use these assessments for the first 2 years of the national courses unless they have something verified by the SQA. This gives less autonomy to the teacher but it does make sure that standards are maintained across the board.
One of the phrases used in the marking criteria is ‘teachers should use their professional judgement’. My initial thoughts on this were – ‘what professional judgement?’! New teachers in particular don’t have vast amounts of experience in the old system of assessments on which to draw and no one has any experience in the new system thus ‘what professional judgement?’. My approach to this – and I’m not suggesting I’m 100% correct – is to try and understand the logic of the candidate. If you can see why they would put something and they clearly have the right concept then give them the mark. If in doubt, talk to them. CfE allows for this and if the pupil can explain why they’ve put a particular answer it should be valid – if it isn’t completely off the wall of course!
Every teachers professional judgement is being tested by the new system but like all new systems it will soon embed and it is clear that compared to the start of the year we are all much more knowledgeable about the standards expected from both ourselves and our pupils.